October 30, 2010

It's a Walk in the Park!

The beauty of our autumn color is quickly fading.....oh but what a glorious season it has been! It was somewhat surprising to toodle around the past few days and notice that the trees are now somewhat baring the branches to welcome, yet brace themselves for cold winter months ahead. The crows are perched on their twigs, cawing into the cool October air. All of those magnificent colors of ambers and crimsons are now blanketing the lawns. I love to hear the crunches of the leaves as we walk along ...but don't forget to look down and take in the various shapes and colors that are beneath you....such wonderment!

The Maine House is walking....oh yes, and eating! We are celebrating the last day of October by taking a walk in the park.....join us as we pack our picnic and head off with tartan blankets, hot cups of apple cider and flavorful, hearty sandwiches and pasta!
Oh my.....and dessert will make you smile...and....continue walking.......

On these brisk autumn afternoons, we relish the notion of spending the entire day outside. It's a time for brilliant foliage and rambling nature walks — the crunch of leaves underfoot, a canopy of vibrant oranges and reds overhead.

We have both young and old joining in our walk in the park.....we planned the afternoon to accommodate both ages! Keep these tips in mind when planning your autumn afternoon of a visit to a walking trail or park!
Alternate between active and restful endeavors so that no one becomes overtired. Choose a nature walk that is agreeable to guests with all levels of energy — you want everyone to be able to participate; therein lies the fun. Pack lots of layers in autumn; the temperature tends to flip-flop, so bring blankets and extra clothing for everyone.

Go to a location where you can vary the activities — hiking, apple picking, crafts — enough to please the whole crowd, no matter their ages.

Think about dressing up cups of cider with lady apple slices and whole spices. For a festive and easy snack, package little bags of roasted pumpkin seeds for each of your guests. We did just this after carving our pumpkins into jack o' lanterns earlier this week. 

Preserve real leaves in a journal as a craft for the kids. Send the children out to search for specimens, then press them between the pages. After you get home, the kids can count how many oak, maple, and birch leaves they've found, and research the ones they don't know.

It will be a treasured family memory of your October day.......

Estelle's Bow Tie Pasta with Sausage and Sweet Red Peppers
8 ounces dried bow tie pasta
3/4 pound fresh spicy Italian sausage links
2 medium sweet peppers, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1/2 cup vegetable broth or beef broth
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 cup snipped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley

 Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return pasta to pan. Meanwhile, cut sausages into 1-inch pieces. Cook sausage and sweet pepper in a large skillet over medium-high heat until sausage is brown. Drain off fat.  Add broth and black pepper to skillet. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Toss pasta with sausage mixture

Estelle's Perfect Autumn Sandwich
1 loaf focaccia bread
olive oil
salt and pepper, & Italian Seasonings
8 Tbsp. butter, room temperature

4 Tbsp. mayonnaise
6 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 lb.smoked turkey, sliced
1/4 lb.honey ham, sliced
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 lb. provolone cheese, sliced
1 small tomato, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh spinach, shredded

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.Season bread by brushing top of loaf with olive oil and sprinkling with salt and other seasonings. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes in a 300 degree oven. Remove and cool.

Estelle's Gooey Chocolate Caramel Dream Dessert
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 cups chocolate wafer crumbs (about 38 wafers)
30 vanilla caramels
1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping
2 cups chopped pecans
1/4 cup whipping cream
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
1/4 cup whipping cream

 In a medium mixing bowl, stir together chocolate wafer crumbs and melted butter. Press onto the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 10 minutes.

Cool slightly on a wire rack.
 In a heavy medium saucepan, melt caramels in caramel ice cream topping over low heat, stirring often. Stir in the first 1/4 cup whipping cream. Remove from heat; stir in nuts. Spread over crust. Cool; cover and chill for 1 hour.
 For topping: In a heavy small saucepan, melt chocolate. Remove from heat; stir in remaining whipping cream. Drizzle or spread over caramel-pecan mixture. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour. Makes 12 servings.

“I still get wildly enthusiastic about little things...
I play with leaves.
 I skip down the street and run against the wind.”
Leo F. Buscaglia quotes (American guru, tireless advocate of the power of love, 1924-1998)


  1. I just found your blog and I really love it!
    And the photographs are absolutely wonderful.
    I'm now a "Follower".
    Thanks for sharing,

  2. That is so wonderful Gabriele! I thank you so much and hope you continue to enjoy the postings as we share recipes, design, travel and history!


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